Mt Kenya legislators list demands to ODM leader Raila Odinga
Mercy Mwai and Alvin Kariuki
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s allies from Mt Kenya region have initiated talks with ODM leader Raila Odinga with the view of supporting his presidential candidature.
The leaders, who met Raila at a Nairobi hotel yesterday, asked him to spell out his plans for the region if he wins next year’s election.
During the meeting, which brought together 25 MPs led by Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Amos Kimunya, the lawmakers tabled seven issues that they want Raila to take into consideration before they support him.
Murang’a Woman Rep Sabina Chege said the leaders want Raila to address issues such as resource allocation based on population, equal representation in elective and appointive positions and completion of ongoing projects such as the Nyeri-Nairobi Highway.
Give and take
They also want to be assured of peace and security for all Kenyans wherever they live irrespective of their political affiliation, especially during and after elections.
“This meeting was mainly to thrash out issues as this is a matter of give and take. Nothing much was formalised but we are of the view that we need to know what presidential candidates are offering the region,” said Mukurweini MP Anthony Kiai.
Kieni MP Kanini Kega said they had agreed on how Raila will campaign in the region.
“Last week you saw Baba in our region and from the reception we witnessed, it is clear that he is the man to watch on the ground,” he said.
Kimunya, who addressed the press after the meeting, said that they had also agreed to work together with ODM lawmakers in pushing for joint parliamentary sittings as well as ensuring that positions are distributed equally between the two parties.
“This morning we had some discussion with the former Prime Minister who has taken us through what they have been engaging with the President and he has assured us that our interests will be secure with him,” said Kimunya.
“We have serious instructions from our leader to work with Honourable Raila. He is a man who we know will transform this country,” he added.
To jumpstart the talks between Raila’s team and Mt Kenya leaders, the lawmakers set up a five-member committee comprising of Kimunya, Kega and Ngunjiri Wambugu (Nyeri Town) from Uhuru’s side and Leader of Minority John Mbadi and Minority Whip Junet Mohammed from the ODM side.
The team is expected to thrash out issues and areas of engagement that will be discussed during their next meeting scheduled for a month’s time.
Raila, who also spoke after the meeting, said that he met the MPs to brief him on “how to climb the mountain”.
He said his agenda would be to fight poverty, guarantee quality access to healthcare and education and ensure the protection of senior citizens.
“This match to the mountain is a match to liberate our people so that we can reach the promised land,” he said.
Raila said he was looking for partners, not followers, in the Mt Kenya region.
The meeting was part of the ODM’s efforts to get the region’s support in next year’s election.
On Tuesday, Raila held a session with influential business leaders from the region who vowed to rally behind him in the Uhuru succession race.
The tycoons and other powerful figures under the Mount Kenya Foundation, hosted the former premier at Safari Park Hotel for a second time this month where he was given the opportunity to sell his agenda. The group his chaired by Equity Bank founder Peter Munga.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s hand in the event, was demonstrated by the presence of his uncle George Muhoho, who is a member of the foundation, and close allies such as former Kenya Electricity Generating (KenGen) chief executive Eddy Njoroge.
An MP who attended yesterday meeting, but who did not want to be named, said the subject of whether Raila would consider picking his running mate from the region, also came up.
“We are yet to get into deep conversation about the running mate position but we have agreed on rules of engagement including the position of a running mate and how we stand to gain economically,” said the MP.